When I was 10 years old, I took my scale on vacation.
I couldn’t leave it at home as it was my closest friend. Unsurprisingly, our vacation turned out to be quite unrelaxing – for everyone involved. There were many fights, arguments over what I should and shouldn’t eat, asking my mom if I could eat ice cream like all of my friends (even though she never ever encouraged me to diet) knowing that my ultimate judge would be the scale in the morning.
When I didn’t lose weight on vacation, I was – of course – furious and oh so disappointed in myself.
Many years later, I stopped taking my scale on vacation and instead of restricting, I binged – for 2 miserable weeks, gaining up to 8kg in this short amount of time.
My perception of my body, my eating, my self-image were completely messed up. I was stick thin at most times of my life, but it was never enough. I needed to be thinner and thinner and when I just couldn’t not eat anymore and gained weight, I turned suicidal.
My body, controlling my weight, was everything to me.
Fast-forward 14 years and I am totally confident in my body. I’ve survived my eating disorders, have birthed a child and am now sporting some stretch marks and a lot of cellulite. And I am cool with it.
I eat what I want, have energy, no more chronic back pain from over-exercising and I listen to my body’s signals as much as I can.
Most of my clients come to me in a similar place of where I’ve been when I was 10 years old. They (almost) want to take their scale on vacation, only look for vacation places with gyms or skip vacations entirely because of the pressure to look thin in a bathing suit.
My clients come to me in a lot of pain and have almost given up on the hope for a life that is free of body concerns.
When you’re caught in this horrible state of loathing your body, putting all your life force into dieting and never getting what you truly want, it’s hard to live. And I really mean that. Not liking your body reduces your quality of life by a billion.
When you’re struggling with your body image, you have to understand that it’s never really about the body (just like dieting or binge eating is never really about the food). There’s a whole dimension of underlying issues being expressed by your obsession with your weight: dissatisfaction with your life, insecurities at your job, traumas, forgotten dreams, resentments, not engaging in your creativity and much more.
Weight and body is just the doorway to your inner healing because they give you the opportunity to dig deep and figure out what’s really going on.
However, this inner healing isn’t easily accessed when you’re surrounded by a world of marketers that play with your insecurities and fears. It is possible though. Believe me, if I can do it, so can you.
Healing your negative body image is all about embodiment and throwing our perception of perfection out the window.
Despite figuring out what I was really going on in my life (and taking action to heal these parts of my life), there are a few things that have helped me big time when I had enough of being a slave to my weight and wanted to actually live my life.
First, I ruthlessly accepted my body type. I am short, my legs are short, my arms are short, my shoulders are broader than my waist and I won’t ever be able to change that. Ever. The moment, I really got that this is who I’ll forever be, I let go of a lot much shame, perfectionism and worry. I was finally able to be confident and embody the beautiful body I have. No more wishing I was taller, no more wishing I was thinner, no more wishing I was different. This was and is my body and it’s just fine the way it is.
Then, I began to go inward instead of looking outward. I began to get curious about my body and what it did for me all day long. I began to stop and listen to my heartbeat. I began to breathe deep belly breaths and I began to close my eyes and just feel for a couple of moments. These tools helped especially when my comparison monster was loud and nasty.
Then, I added more play into my life and relaxed into unknowing. When I went out with friends, we might go out to a restaurant or not. I never knew, but I was brave enough to just go with it and see what happened. I began to challenge myself to be in the moment and not put my weight first all the time. I began to not take my body so seriously and instead focused on enjoying myself.
This may sound simple and it is. But it’s not easy to do when you’re caught in diet prison.
You do need some courage and a strong desire to get out of that painful place that keeps you locked in your small world, thinking body-centered thoughts and holding yourself to impossible standards.
However, in the end it comes down to one question: do you want to be happy or do you want to be thin?
It’s your decision, but unless you’re one of the tiny % of the world’s population who naturally fits into our crazy beauty ideals, I’d choose happiness.
About the author:
Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is serves women who want OUT of their destructive relationship with food and their bodies by helping them to respect their body wholeheartedly.
She is a certified Martha Beck Life Coach and Eating Psychology Coach, founder of the award-winning blog Make Peace with Food, Your Body & Yourself, successful speaker and workshop leader with clients all over the world.
After a 14-year long battle with food and her body, she successfully healed her relationship with herself and is now passionate about helping others find the peace, freedom and happiness she enjoys every day.
An expert in her field, she has been quoted extensively on popular media and is a regular speaker on issues surrounding women’s body images.
Her story and message have been the focus of a national Swiss documentary and she has been a guest on Swiss and German national TV. Her work has also been published on sites such as the Huffington Post, Copyblogger, Problogger and She Takes on the World.
Join her free 12 Days of (Self-) Kindness Challenge & Giveaway Party starting on November 2nd and spread kindness to change the way this world operates.